Approximately 3 million people in the United States, or 1 out of every 100, have Celiac Disease, an autoimmune intestinal disorder for which a gluten-free diet is necessary. As many as 1 in 7 people are Gluten Intolerant, or have what is now sometimes called Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity.
What is Celiac Disease?
Celiac Disease (CD), also known as Celiac Sprue, is a lifelong, chronic, inherited autoimmune condition. It is considered to be the most under-diagnosed common disease today, affecting an estimated 1 in 100 children and adults in the United States. When people with CD eat foods that contain gluten, it creates an immune-mediated toxic reaction that causes damage to the small intestine. The damage in the small intestine prevents absorption of nutrients and can lead to malnutrition, anemia, osteoporosis, infertility and certain cancers. Even small amounts of gluten in foods can affect those with CD and cause health problems. Damage can occur to the small intestine even when there are no symptoms present. To develop celiac disease (CD), 3 factors must be present: 1) you must inherit the gene, 2) you consume gluten, and 3) you have the gene triggered. Common triggers may include stress, trauma (surgeries, pregnancy, etc.) and viral infections. Celiac Disease is permanent, and the only treatment is a lifelong gluten-free diet.
What is Gluten Intolerance?
Gluten Intolerance is varying degrees of sensitivity to gluten but does not involve the immune system. The symptoms could be flu-like and/or gastrointestinal (diarrhea, flatulence, acid reflux, fatigue or weight loss), but these symptoms are not life threatening. People who are Gluten Intolerant but test negative for CD are known as Non-Celiac Gluten Intolerant (NCGI).
Consumption of gluten causes the individual gastrointestinal distress, but improves when on a gluten-free diet and there is no indication of small intestine damage. NCGI does not involve the immune system and generally is not life threatening. Gluten Intolerance may affect people with autism, multiple sclerosis or chronic fatigue, and eliminating gluten from the diet could improve some of the disease’s symptoms.
What is Gluten?
Gluten is the common name for the proteins in specific grains that are harmful to persons with CD. These proteins are found in ALL forms of wheat (including durum, semolina, spelt, kamut, einkorn and faro) and the related grains rye, barley and triticale.
The proteins in wheat, barley and rye that cause this sensitivity are called prolamins. The prolamin in wheat is called gliadin; in barley, it’s called hordein; and in rye, it’s called secalin. Almost all grains contain a prolamin, but only those found in wheat, barley or rye will damage the intestines of a person with CD.
Oats do not contain the gluten protein but a protein with a similar structure, and may contain gluten due to cross contamination from being processed with the other grains.
Who Could Benefit from a Gluten-Free Diet?
Those who have any of the following:
>> Celiac Disease
>> Gluten Intolerance
>> Digestive Disorders
>> Autoimmune Disorders
A diagnosis of Celiac Disease or Gluten Intolerance doesn't mean giving up your favorite foods. Living without gluten is easier than you think. Here are some simple tips to get started.
We are committed to making buying gluten-free easier than ever. Our expanding variety of gluten-free items continues to grow. If you can imagine it, you'll most likely find it in our store.
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>> According to the Experts
>> Frequently Asked Questions
>> Gluten Intolerance Group (GIG) www.gluten.net
>> Celiac Sprue Association (CSA) www.csaceliacs.org
>> Celiac Disease Foundation (CDF) www.celiac.org
>> National Foundation for Celiac Awareness (NFCA) www.celiaccentral.org
>> Celiac Disease Awareness Campaign www.celiac.nih.gov